My Take: Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11
Muslims praying last month in Los Angeles, California, at the end of Ramadan.
September 7th, 2011
12:11 PM ET

My Take: Muslims should stop apologizing for 9/11

Editor’s note: Aman Ali is a New York-based writer, stand-up comedian and the co-creator of 30 Mosques in 30 Days, a Ramadan road trip across America.

By Aman Ali, Special to CNN

New York (CNN) - As a Muslim, I’m sick of people asking me how I feel about 9/11. What do you want me to say, seriously?

Do you want me to say, “It was a great plan, mwahahaha!” before I fly off on a magic carpet?

I was born and raised in this country and was just as shocked as everyone else to learn there were people on this earth so vile as to commit such a horrific attack - or to even think about doing it.

But I didn’t do it. Neither did 99.999999999 percent of the roughly 1.5 billion people in the world who also call themselves Muslims. So why should I or any other Muslim apologize for what happened?

Nickleback is planning on releasing another album. Should I ask white people to apologize for that?

Just like Christianity and Judaism, Islam unequivocally condemns terrorism. Don’t take it from me, though. Grab a copy of the Quran from a library and find out for yourself.

Don’t rely on some cherry-picked crackpot interpretation of the Muslim holy book that you read on some Islamophobic hack’s poorly designed website. Speaking of which, Islamophobes need to put down the Quran and pick up a book on HTML programming and Flash.

When 9/11 happened, I can understand why the average person would want to know what Muslims actually believe. After all, the terrorists claimed they were acting in the name of Islam.

That’s why hundreds of Islamic organizations around the globe condemned the attacks and told the truth about how Islam doesn’t condone terrorism whatsoever.

But that was 10 years ago. Why are mainstream American Islamic groups like the Islamic Society of North America, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council still condemning the attacks and just about any other act of terrorism that pops up in the news?

Weren’t we clear before how we feel about terrorism? If people didn’t understand us for the past 10 years, what makes Muslims think they’re going to understand us now?

If I have to explain 10 times to my little brother how to operate the toaster in my apartment, that’s not my fault because of inadequate messaging. It’s my brother’s fault that he’s dumb.

It’s ridiculous for Muslims to continuously condemn and apologize for stuff when every religion has their fair share of crazies.

Imagine you’re in the habit of partying with a group of friends. And every party you go to, there's a friend in your crew that spills grape juice on the carpet - the really awesome kind of grape juice that’s in the fancy wine bottles (we Muslims don’t drink alcohol but we still can party like ballers).

How would you feel if people stopped inviting you to their parties because your one friend kept spilling grape juice? That's how I feel. I'm really annoyed I have to keep apologizing or condemning Muslim extremists that keep spilling their grape juice of hate on the world.

Dictionary.com defines the word apologize as “to offer an apology or excuse for some fault insult, failure, or injury.”

When 9/11 happened, I was 16 years old and playing Tetris during English class on my TI-83 calculator. I’ll apologize for not paying attention to Mrs. Fulton’s lecture at my high school in Gahanna, Ohio, but that’s about it.

Just because people hundreds of miles away claimed they were Muslim and committed a terrible act doesn’t mean I should apologize for it.

Mike Tyson started sucking really bad in the boxing ring after he converted to Islam. Should I apologize for that? Oh, and I think I saw a few Muslim-sounding names in the production credits for the movie “Green Lantern.” I guess I should apologize for that, too.

I’m not trying to be insensitive about 9/11. Of course my prayers and sentiments are with anyone affected by the tragedy. The same goes for any act of terrorism.

But I’m not going to apologize or condemn them because I don’t need to prove my patriotism with some kind of McCarthyite litmus test. The Pew Research Center released a study last week that found that Muslim Americans are far more pleased with how things are going in the United States (56%) than is the general public (23%).

That finding is not going to provoke me to question the general public’s patriotism. But please stop questioning ours.

The 9/11 attacks were a terrible tragedy that changed all of our lives. There’s no way we can ever forget what happened.

But what we Muslims can do is advance the conversation, rather than repeating the same old condemnations. Condemnations and apologies are like an out of style fashion trend, the parachute pants and neon hair scrunchies of civil discourse.

What Muslims need is an extreme makeover. Now that’s some extremism I can get behind.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Aman Ali.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Islam • Opinion

soundoff (2,556 Responses)
  1. David Shelly

    No one has said that 99,999,999 muslims were involved in 9/11 but what strikes me is the tacet acceptance of radicalism. You know who the jihadists are and yet you do nothing. There were a lot of Germans who did not participate in the holocaust but if they stodd idly by while it was going on and did nothing then they share some of the blame. Where were all the moderate clerics after 9/11? Where are they now when we have people blowing up innocents? I am so sick and tired of the west being blamed for all that ails Muslims. My God man. You folks still lash woeman and condone honoir killings? How about your relgion join the modern age and then MAYBE we can have dialouge.

    October 3, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • Muneef


      There are those who had put into their hearts chauvinism – the chauvinism of the time of ignorance. While there are others who GOD Had sent them down His tranquillity and imposed upon them the word of righteousness, and they are more deserving of understanding and worthy of confidence..

      There are courts who look into these matter which could be of criminal nature and not religious,beside that our courts are judging with Civil Laws & Islamic Sharia,therefore who ever takes the laws into his hands is a criminal in the eyes of courts... There might be faults at outer cities belts where there are no men of law...and that is natural for big countries and am sure the U.S suffer similar faults...!?!

      October 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • Roger Tiest

      I belong to the vast majority of people that don't believe in whatever supreme God or any other substance that solves my problem of being mortal. I don't need it to try to have a decent life. The human being however proves to be a horror, justifying it's worst behavior by the defense of a self declared convenient truth. After Christian mediaval and later shameful actions now pathetic Islamic cowards kill women, children and elder people but never (!) get face to face with so-called enemies. Their financial supporters organise tennis-, golf- and F1 shows and build skyhigh towers (that will not be hit by friendly fire !!).
      I hope that a religion-free Chinese world leader can show where religions ought to be: private, respected as such, and absolutely out of power. Let Rome and Mekka stay where they belong: in your private harts and dreams.
      Gods and profets have brought us only one certain fact: murder for a good cause ..
      Open your eyes: gods at both sides have allways been invented and quoted to justify personal benefits.
      Have an IQ above 60 and stop denying Moslim (and other) denyal of mortality and cope with that
      PS: I love my dog (Jack Russell – crazy but extremely fair and honest, but OK he's not religious).
      Signed: RT (trying to be fair and to harm no other living being.

      October 3, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Muneef

      You mean like they had shown the Tibet ? Or may these links guide;


      October 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  2. Big JG

    Love, love, love the nickelback comparison!!! that band really sucks.

    October 2, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
  3. Muneef

    By:  Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi
    The Spirit of Islam;





    October 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  4. Muneef

    Can religious leaders play a constructive role?
    by Hanna Siniora – 28 October 2010.

    JERUSALEM – In a message that concluded two weeks of meetings of the Vatican Synod on the Middle East, the bishops declared that Israel should not use the biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or territorial claims in the West Bank. The statement also expressed the hope that a two state solution could be made a reality.
    Religion const-i-tutes a part of the problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And since it is part of the problem, it also has to be part of the solution. The peaceful concept of coexistence in Islam, Judaism and Christianity, if properly spread and taught by the religious leaders from the three monotheistic faiths, is key to solving the conflict. It is of particular importance to solving the conflicts over holy places and can lead the way to an accommodation regarding the Jewish and Muslim sanctuaries in Jerusalem. 

    In my opinion, religious leaders are the most credible body to spread the peaceful message that diverse religious narratives can coexist because they have the authority to interpret the holy books. Furthermore, religious leaders are not running for elections and are thus safe with their following and able to influence and tone down religious extremism and build harmonious relations. Each religion holds the potential to sow the seeds for a change in public mood amongst its faithful.

    Religious leaders should be encouraged and supported in their efforts both to assume the responsibility of guiding the public towards peaceful coexistence and to play an active and confident role in shaping public opinion. They have to counter religious extremists and political leaders from using the Word of God for their own political ends, to perpetuate and inflame the conflict. 

    In our conflict, narratives diverge and too often lead to the delegitimising and demonising of the Other. At present, religion is used by those who demand sole ownership over the homeland and the holy places, instead of serving as a tool for reconciling and accepting the need to both share the land and respect the religious needs of the three faiths. 

    October 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  5. Steve Skeete

    Aman says repeatedly that the terrorists who blew up the towers "claimed to be muslim". When a preacher threatened to burn the koran a year ago, I did not hear any muslim say that he "claimed to be Christian". Of course not! Anyone who would do such a blasphemous deed could only be a Christian. The way I understand it, once you believe in one God Allah, and his final prophet Mohammed, that's it. So why is Aman trying to get us to believe that the 9/11 terrorists were not muslim? Are the Talban muslim? Is Al Shabab? Is the muhajadeen? Was Bin Laden? Is Gadaffi? Is any "true" muslim capable of terrorism? Are you no longer a muslim when you commit an act of terror? Tell us Aman?

    October 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  6. Mariposa

    Just recently I read that a Christian pastor was going to be executed for his faith by muslims. I'm sure there have been other Christian believers that have been killed because of their faith, and there will be many more. There are Christian missionaries, and followers of Christ that have to live their faith in secret just so they wont get killed, now tell me that's not hateful, and that's just one of many examples that all seems to go back to the Muslim faith. Muslims need to realize that the world is looking on and asking for more than an apology. At the same time, God, Jesus Christ loves muslims and is willing to forgive them, just as long as they are willing to repent. God is the one who deserves an apology. My heart and prayers goes out to all the victims of terrorism, victims of 9/11, to those suffering b/c of their faith in Christ, and to muslims and the nation of Islam...God loves them all!!! Jesus is the truth, the light, and the way!!!

    October 2, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • David Shelly

      What I find most hypocritical is they say the west hates Muslims well then why is it most Muslim nations prohibit the bible? Why is ity is we in the US are so intolerant that you can stand on a street corner and praise Allah all day long with no consequences? Try that in Kabul, or in Saudi Arabia or anywhere esle in the entire middle east......

      October 3, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  7. Austin Major

    I would definitely say that the muslims of this country should not keep apologizing for 9/11, for they had NOTHING to do with it at all. 9/11 was caused by radicals and extremists, not the muslim citizens that get bashed for it. I am a Christian and I pray that the LORD will protect them and to care for them.

    October 2, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  8. i dont get it.

    what i dont get is that when people speak of 9/11 they say it was this great tragedy. well isnt that what is supposed to happen? if america attacks a country then the number of people dead is worth celebrating but when someone attacks us the rest of the the world must hate them the same?? America needs therapy if you ask me. childish games and childish ways...
    God help us all

    October 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  9. AvdBerg

    For a better understanding of the history of Islam and the impact on this world we invite you to read the articles ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’ and ‘Clash of Civilizations’ listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Also, to give people a better understanding of the issues that divide your country and this world we have recently added the article ‘CNN Belief Blog ~ Sign of the Times’ to our listing of articles.

    It is unfortunate but nevertheless the truth that man(kind) in his natural state is unable to understand the Word of God, in fact he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned: meaning to be able to discern between darkness and light (1 Cor. 2:14,15, Acts 26:18). On our website we explain what mankind must do to be reunited with God. The Bible is true and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

    There is a natural body and a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44). The only element that separates the Natural body from the Spiritual body is the Baptism of Repentance (Mark 1:4). To repent means: to change spirits and to turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan, whose spirit mankind is of (Luke 9:55), unto God (Acts 26:18). This is not an interpretation.

    We depict the natural body and the spiritual body on top of every page on our website. The spiritual side represents the Tree of Life. A Tree signifies a person and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil refers to a person that is able to discern (judge) between darkness and light (1 Cor. 2:15; Acts 26:18).

    Many people search the Bible for in them they think they have eternal life, but when we bring them the Scriptures they don’t believe us (John 5:38,39). Confused? There is no need to be confused any longer. For a better understanding of the mystery of God and what mankind must do to be reunited with God we invite you to read all the pages and articles of our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how this whole world has been deceived as confirmed by the Word of God in Revelation 12:9. The Bible is true in all things and is the discerner of every thought and the intent of the heart (Hebrews 5:12).

    So, before mankind will be able to understand the Word of God, mankind requires to be converted and transformed by God and only then mankind is able to understand the Bible, as it is God (John 1:1). Any kind of religion is a form of self-transformation and is like putting new wine into old bottles or like putting a new piece of old cloth into an old garment (Matthew 9:16,17; 2 Cor. 11:13-15).

    October 2, 2011 at 9:52 am |
  10. peick

    Your point is well taken, but that still doesn't vindiciate Islam as a religious system. In some Musilm countries, the penalty for converting to Christianity is death. When Salman Rushdie made the prophet look bad in his book, he was condemned to death by official Muslim leaders in another country. I will accept that there are very many Muslims who do not agree with this extremism, but I guess you still have to show us the official teaching of the Q'uran that is against this behavior, because we are seeing the parts that support it. Clearly, we are not Muslim scholars in the US, but show us the actual commandments that forbid Muslims to kill others. And spare me the Biblical examples of commands to kill, because they were given to kings of long ago and not to current followers of Judaism and Christianity.

    October 2, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • Credenza

      Very well said. A sound and well put response. Bless you.

      October 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  11. realdeal

    You are a pompous coward and your article makes no sense. First, I have not heard ANY muslims apologize for any terrorists attacks. All I ever hear is muslims worried about being stereotyped and concerned that they will be victimized for their religious beliefs. Second, during my lifetime, I have witnesses a pattern of violent behavior from the muslim nations, starting with the hostage taking in Iran, started by an Imam. Third, your religious leaders are always preaching Jihad. They have no sympathy for women or children; they like to kill the innocent. Your brothers in Islam enjoy beheading people and posting that to the internet. Even today, a man is set to be executed in Iran for being a Christian. Stating that you are tired of apologizing is merely a way for you to justify your inaction and the collective inaction of millions of muslims to actually put a stop to the jihad. Why don't you spend your time trying to stop the execution of an innocent man in Iran, instead of writing such self-serving drivel?

    October 2, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Chris R

      You haven't heard a Muslim apologize for 9/11. Really? Do you want the Muslim next door to come up to you and personally apologize for something they had *no* part in? Do you really want to hear Muslim's condemning terrorism? If that's the case then you only have to search Google to find hundreds of examples of this. If you really want an apology from a muslims go search on freemuslims dot org and apology. You'll find your apology there.

      October 2, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Credenza

      I'd like the Muslims in London, Birmingham and other BIG cities in England to apologise for going out and having street parties with fireworks when the news of 9/11 broke!!!!!!!!
      I'd like the Muslim area in London which had [and STILL have] large posters of the twin towers burning and triumphant messages celebrating the great event to apologise! And I make no apology for that.

      I forgive their actions and I forgive their motives BUT I will never forget that they offered no apology for their exhibition of cruelty that day as long as I live.

      October 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  12. Vanessa

    I love this article! I'm not Muslim, but have a lot of Muslim friends. I completely understand your point of view, there are just a lot of ignorant people in the United States who do not care to be open to Islam and how truly beautiful it is. Oh well what can you do? You CANT apologize for those people. Let them be ignorant and uninformed.

    October 2, 2011 at 3:43 am |
  13. Randy

    Hey my man.... why don't you walk downtown and go into a New York City Fire Department and take that stance. I'm a 35 year old white guy... what would you say if I went to a black family's house for dinner and said "slavery... jeez, it happened like 200 years ago... you guys are still upset about that? Let it go!" What would you think of me?? ...and 9-11 happened 10 years ago, not 200. You call yourself a New Yorker?? You should be ashamed of yourself!! So sorry you feel inconvenienced by having to say out loud that 9-11 was a horrific act or god forbid you should speak out against those responsible. You're not an answer... you're part of the problem. It's people like you who blur the lines between hate and growth.

    October 2, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • Chris R

      To take your example, do you think that white people should still be apologizing for slavery? Do you go up to every african-american on the street and apologize for what your race did to them? Do you think white people who immigrated to this country *after* the abolition of slavery should apologize or only the ones who come from a family that was here prior to 1864? If you don't think you should *personally* apologize for slavery why should the muslim next door personally apologize for 9/11? You should, of course, condemn slavery just as the muslim should also condemn terrorism. However, condemning something and apologizing for it are two different things, don't you think?

      October 2, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Randy

      Why don't you read my comment again.... what I said was it would be ridiculous to belittle "african americans" for being upset about slavery, blowing it off, acting like it was no big deal, insinuating that they should not be upset and making jokes about it.... which is exactly what this author is trying to do in terms of September 11th.

      No one said he has to run up to people and apologize but taking the stance that he is offended or even annoyed that when it comes up he feels "forced to apologize for or condemn" attacks that killed over 3000 people is completely out of line. If anything as a Muslim he should be trying to mend open wounds and help people move forward toward tolerance and understanding.

      On top of that to call yourself a New Yorker and then ridicule the darkest day in the city's history... a day when thousands of your neighbors lost their family members is a disgrace.

      I'm amazed CNN would actually post this on their site!

      October 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  14. talezspin

    Search online "games muslims play"

    October 2, 2011 at 3:26 am |
    • Credenza


      October 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  15. dinak

    The koran that is printed in the U.S. is not the same one that is read overseas. The one that is printed and read overseas does contain all the hateful language that this comedian doesn't think exists. Also, I haven't noticed that White people in the U.S. have been asked by the Black establishment to stop apologizing about slavery. This guy is pathetic. Does CNN run only hard-left columnists? How about something from the Heritage Foundation or the John Locke foundation once in a while?

    October 2, 2011 at 3:09 am |
    • Chris R

      I'm sorry but you are entirely wrong about the contents of Qur'ans printed here being different than the ones available overseas. There may be some minor differences in the english translation of the arabic but the text is exactly the same. That's the funny thing – you can pick up 18 different bibles and they'll all have slightly different versions of the same verse (in fact, some will have entire books not in the others). The Qur'an though is essentially identical and unchanged since it was first written.

      October 2, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  16. azereta

    Calm down people...I don't see why muslims have to feel guilty about 9-11 .

    October 2, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Credenza

      They didn't carry out the attack. That is true.

      But it didn't stop thousands of them celebrating around the world when the news broke did it??????????

      October 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  17. Muneef

    Poverty and Terrorism;
    Why do feel there is a connection between poverty and terrorism...? Jobless and Hopeless for an employment will be driven to become joining gangesters thieves,burglars,robbers,militias,pirates.. Violence is even worse if hooked addicted on some few things other than food and water that demands from them more and more money...!!

    what obstructs the investment in world nations development of the world nations in creating  jobs opportunities to enable all to live and dream of success... There are misdistribution of world wealth,countries are heading towards obtaining more arms than businesses, investments or developments...!! Others rather went on the highest or biggest or fanciest concrete jungles....!!
    While few others have treasured,hoarded their money in banks for the sake of u-s-ury living on interests doing nothing and losing nothing...! Banks for sake of giving high interests will claim for the more financial interests revenue  rather than taking for the morality of fighting poverty in generating more opportunities...unfortunately even if they thought they can do that there will come those who will take it easily because of his gvt connections but will not do that all fake con and will use the money in other things bribing buying the silence of all those...!!

    Some thing should be worked out and serious laws have to be imposed with an aim to fight poverty not by feeding the people but rather in helping them to creat businesses feeding them selves and those whom they employ or work or deal with..... You will find out even more from "the Wall Street Protests & Demands. although even more from the following subject link;
    "Decommissioning The IMF, World Bank and WTO"
    (This report analyses the negative impacts of the IMF, World Bank and WTO on sustainable development and suggests an alternative mechanism for regulating the international economy which can allow these inst-i-tutions to be progressively decommissioned.).

    If we can just leave out religions as enemies and take "Poverty" as being the main enemy for mankind existence as a human being and not as a working animal....?!?

    October 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Credenza

      I don't know what nationality you are. But if you are, by any chance, Muslim [ or even if you're not ] – you need to be telling this to the obscenely rich Arab minority whose people would be a darn sight better off if they had less time to run terrorist training schools for kids and more jobs to keep them occupied.

      October 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Muneef

      Dear they might be not living in their countries but rather out in the west while their businesses are here!!!
      They say"if a person is mentally good then physically he will be good". So you see if the capital of the world in this globalization is mentally ill then physically is sick.... The world is one whole body one Ark....!!

      October 2, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  18. Pleas

    I am Muslim. I have never apologized for 9/11 becasue I am not a terrorist. In fact, thee people should apoloize to me for making me a victim of hatred.

    October 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • 2011cnn2011

      I am a Christian, and I totally apoligize to the jews for ww2....your silence is just as evil as the terrorists bomb...you shouldnt feel guilty, but you should always voice against what is wrong and evil.

      October 1, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • rs1201

      You don't have to apologize moron...but you do have to speak up against the monsters amongst your fellow muslims...that's what any decent human being would do...As an American Jew, I am devastated when a fellow Jew commits a crime or some perverted act. Even though I have nothing to do with any harm that comes to anyone...I still feel badly and humiliated by the actions of any fellow Jew that may cause harm to others. I suppose one has to be decent right down to the last bone and cell in his or her body to feel as I do. If you don't speak up and denounce your fellow muslims' actions, then consider yourself one of them...another monster!!!

      October 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • Randy

      Yeah... you're right... we should apologize to you! Never mind the thousands of people who lost their lives in horrific fashion while they were trying to go to work. Never mind the thousands of troops who put their lives on the line to protect your freedom and give you the right to go on here and make statements like that without fear of persecution. You're right... we should apologize to you!! So sorry for the inconvenience!

      October 2, 2011 at 3:24 am |
    • Chris R

      Uh people, the guy is saying he shouldn't apologize – not that terrorism is a good thing. I think if you *ask* the guy he'd say that terrorism is wrong and that 9/11 was evil. However, there is no need for him to apologize. Look, I'm a white guy who's family has been in this country since the 1700's. Some of my ancestors *owned* people. In fact, I met some of the people who are descended from the people by ancestors owned. I did not, and do not, feel any need to apologize to them for something that happened more than 140 years ago. We talked, I said what happened was wrong and that slavery was an evil scourge. I did not apologize though because I did not personally have a thing to do with it.

      October 2, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  19. Iqdal Khan


    October 1, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • i dont get it.

      thank you at least someone knows the truth!!

      October 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  20. Iqdal Khan

    Check this...


    October 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.